Sunday, January 10, 2010

Do People Mean to Be Discouraging?

I think most pregnant women have noticed that along with the pregnancy comes lots of stories and advice from everyone – families, friends, coworkers, and sometimes even strangers. While some of it is helpful, and most of it is probably well-meaning, I wonder if people realize how discouraging a lot of the comments are.

In my case, the worst seems to come from family. When I got pregnant, first it was all the comments about how I’d need to change my priorities because I couldn’t raise a child with my work schedule [2 full time jobs]. When I quit one job I was going to lose anyway [at the time, I had gone 2 months with no pay, was looking at 2-3 months more for a decision whether to put me on 50% pay for that time, and was informed I didn't have enough leave to cover the pregnancy unless I returned to work less than 2 weeks after my due date, and would be fired then if I wasn't back on full duty at that time], it was how “stupid” that was because of health insurance [one of the reasons I left is because they refused to cover it, and by leaving I was able to get on my husband's plan which is much cheaper], and how I should immediately sell my car, which I need for the other job [it's hard to sell real estate in a fairly rural & mountainous area without a decent vehicle with 4 wheel drive]. When I announced I was having a boy, several family members pointed out that my sister has 3 sons, and  “should” have a girl, like I had a choice in the matter – this got brought up again by 2 different family members at Christmas.

I would think people would know better in the above situations, which makes me question why they even say such things. Even with the work/car comments – it was obvious I was upset and stressed out over the whole situation, so why say a bunch of crap to just make me feel bad, and add even more stress to the situation.
The other stuff is probably more common, but can be just as rough to hear. For me, the first was the reminders of how I was premature, spent most of my first year in the hospital, and was breech so I “had to” be delivered by c-section. I’ve literally grown up hearing about it, but I hate it now because there seems to be the implication that I will have problems, and a few people have told me to just go ahead and give up everything I want with this birth and schedule a c-section just in case. The part that keeps getting repeated now, that I never heard mentioned before, is how my mother couldn’t breastfeed, so she doesn’t think I will be able to and I shouldn’t even try. I wonder if she ever thought that the fact I was early, kept in an incubator and feed formula for over a day before she even saw me, and she didn’t even try to nurse until her milk “dropped” and the nurse told her it’d make her boobs less sore might have something to do with all that. I’m sure she hasn’t connected it to the reason I was in the hospital so much [often for jaundice & twice for formula allergies/problems] early on.

It frustrates the hell out of me when the discouragement and misinformation is coming from my own family, because anything I try to correct either gets taken as a personal attack on their parenting, or is answered with “but, look, you turned out ok”. Even if I hadn’t though, I think most of them would still rather support the status quo and the “way things are done” in a typical high-intervention hospital birth, because they don’t want to be responsible for making their own decisions, and thus losing somebody to blame if things go wrong.
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